From file: A group of children at the Huth IDP camp in Yemen | Photo: Mohammed Al-Mekhlaf/Oxfam
From file: A group of children at the Huth IDP camp in Yemen | Photo: Mohammed Al-Mekhlaf/Oxfam

A German UNHCR partner organization has sounded the alarm over the ramifications of food shortages for refugee populations worldwide. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and droughts are exacerbating humanitarian crises like the one in Yemen, the NGO warned.

Migrants and internally displaced people as well as host populations who take those groups in will suffer most from food shortages and hunger, the German UN refugee relief (UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe) said on Monday (August 1).

"In the Horn of Africa alone, which is currently experiencing the worst drought in 40 years, an estimated 18.4 million people are suffering from acute hunger," the German partner organization of the UN refugee agency UNHCR said. Moreover, 1.5 million people seeking protection were in urgent need of help.

The nonprofit also highlighted the dire situation in Yemen, where a brutal civil war has been raging for almost eight years now, causing the already unstable economy to collapse and leaving 80% of the population reliant on aid. The United Nations has called Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Failed grain deliveries and rising food prices have been making the difficult situation worse: 17.4 million people, or more than half of Yemen's entire population, are on the brink of famine, according to UN refugee relief. Among them are 3.8 million internally displaced people and refugees.

The Yemeni civil war, pitting the Saudi-backed government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, has killed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly.

Read more Displaced Yemenis struggle to access aid, UNHCR warns

Food scarcity 

The coronavirus pandemic, ongoing droughts and the war in Ukraine, where Russia has been blocking vital grain exports, are considered the main reasons for the food scarcity in Yemen.

"In Germany, we feel global delivery shortages and food scarcities when sunflower oil and wheat flour temporarily disappear from supermarket shelves -- but for many refugees and IDPs in especially crisis-ridden regions, they are a matter of survival," said Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer, managing director of the UN refugee relief.

The current situation could also create a breeding ground for new conflicts and displacement, Ruhenstroth-Bauer added.

According to UN refugee relief, the UN refugee agency UNHCR was on-site in Yemen with its partners. However, there is a problem with financing their operations, which couldn't keep up with the continually rising demand. This could lead to the shortening of food rations, according to the NGO.

One day before a four-month long truce expires, 30 aid agencies working in Yemen on Monday called on rival forces to extend the truce, which has been helping millions of struggling civilians, news agency AFP reported. The UN-brokered truce that took effect in early April has provided a rare respite from violence for much of the country and alleviated some of the suffering.

"During the past four months, ordinary Yemenis have experienced the longest period of calm in the country in over seven years," the aid groups said in a joint statement. "Since the truce entered into force on April 2, reports of civilian casualties have dropped significantly."

Also read: Dozens killed in airstrike on prison in Yemen

Record number of children killed

According to Save the Children, however, last week saw the highest death toll among children in Yemen in two years. During the last week of the truce, 11 children died through armed conflict and 27 were injured, the global NGO said Monday (August 1).

The last time a similar number of children were killed was in spring 2020, according to Save the Children. The number of armed raids have been increasing throughout July, it added. In total, 232 civilians were killed or injured last month, 65 of them last week alone.

According to AFP, the truce has also allowed for the possibility of the resumption of commercial flights from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt. Moreover, oil tankers have been able to dock in the lifeline port of Hodeida, which is also in Houthi hands.

Read more: Nearly 37 million children displaced worldwide



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